My husband insists that he is capable of driving

Dear Jo,

Even though the doctor said he shouldn’t drive the car anymore, my husband insists that he is capable of driving.  I tell him over and over that he can’t drive, so now I have to, and he gets furious with me!  I really don’t know what to say anymore.  We argue about this all the time.

Jo Says:

Driving is one of the most difficult issues surrounding this disease process.  For this situation, the best answer comes from the Second Absolute – Never Reason, Instead Divert.  Because of his memory loss and your husband’s inability to consistently store and/or retrieve new information in his brain, he truly won’t remember what the doctor told him.  For that matter, he is going to have difficulty keeping track of the information you are providing him, no matter how many times you tell him.  It is literally going “in one ear and out the other,” because he forgets that new information after a short period of time.

The best thing to do is to change the conversation; he cannot, and will not, be able to respond to reason.  When he starts talking about driving, you can simply divert and change the subject, completely.  Introduce something new like “What kind of ice cream are you going to get?”  It will feel strange at first, and may even make you laugh – which is great!  When you stop feeling so stressed (and he will read it on your face), he won’t be so stressed, and from there you can move forward.  This does not remove the seriousness of the driving issue, but for now it provides relief, and you can move ahead. One of the most difficult things to learn is to keep discussions about issues like these to a minimum – or if you can, totally eliminate them.  However, if you can get your husband to talk and tell you stories, even if you hear the same ones over and over, you will find more enjoyment and less confrontation every day.